Sunday, February 14, 2016

Blood Alone (manga, vol. 5) by Masayuki Takano, translated by Nan Rymer

Blood Alone is a vampire manga that was licensed by Seven Seas. I got volume 5 via interlibrary loan.

Review:

After the somewhat promising volume 4, the series has gone back to being mediocre. Each chapter is basically a separate story, which is, I think, how I'll tackle my review.

Chapter 1 wrapped up the enormous flashback that was volume 4.  I was very disappointed with how all of this ended. I had expected that it would go on long enough to show the moment when Misaki was turned into a vampire, but apparently volume 4's big, bad vampire was not the one responsible for turning her. In fact, a later chapter revealed that her maker is still out there somewhere, and that he could use her against Kuroe. I sense enormous angst in this series' future.

Chapter 2 was a cutesy little story about Misaki being afraid of thunder. Kuroe was planning on leaving to get some work done, and Misaki wanted him to stay but was reluctant to tell him why. This was disgustingly cute and would probably have worked better for me if it hadn't contributed to this series' general problem of not knowing what it wants to be. The entire previous volume was a darker vampire story, and yet this chapter was very much slice-of-life cuteness. Misaki really is the most useless vampire ever.

My other issue with the second chapter was that I couldn't erase the first three volumes and Misaki's enormous crush on Kuroe from my mind. This volume made little-to-no mention of Misaki's crush on Kuroe, and Kuroe's treatment of Misaki was primarily fatherly. Still, I couldn't help but think of how Misaki was probably taking Kuroe's efforts to calm her down (sitting her on his lap and telling her to listen to his heartbeat instead of the thunder). Those first three volumes ruined my ability to see Kuroe and Misaki as a cute adoptive father and daughter pair.

In Chapter 3, Misaki stumbled across a mysterious antique shop that appeared to have a magical mirror. The shopkeeper let her take it home, telling her that it was the “Mirror of Returned Love” and would only show a person's reflection when they peered into it with their one true love by their side. Misaki, of course, wanted to try it out with Kuroe. This one was just weird. Again, Misaki is the worst vampire ever, and I'm amazed that her maker hasn't managed to find her and capture her yet. The owner of that antique store was incredibly shady. This chapter, like chapter 2, was more cutesy fluff than anything. It also once again reminded readers of Misaki's crush on Kuroe, since the ending basically boiled down to “Misaki doesn't need someone else to tell her that Kuroe is her one true love, because she knows it in her heart.”

In Chapter 4, Misaki felt melancholy after drinking her monthly glass of blood, but Kuroe's presence was able to cheer her up again. This story was basically pointless, beyond telling me that Misaki does fine with just a single glass of blood a month. Throughout most of the series so far, the only evidence of Misaki's vampiric nature have been this bit of blood-drinking, her inability to go outside during the day, her occasional vampire fangs, and the one moment at the beginning of the series when her Straruda (vampiric power, which manifests as a separate personality) took over. Other than those things, she's mostly been an ordinary little girl.

In Chapter 5, a mysterious man kept hitting on Misaki, setting off all of Kuroe's “stranger danger” warning bells. Misaki thought he was worrying too much, right up until the moment when she was kidnapped. Another pointless story. True, Kuroe got a chance to demonstrate a few of his abilities, which I now know came directly from his teacher, but all danger evaporated the instant things started to get serious.

This is the last of the volumes I recently got via interlibrary loan. I suppose I could request volume 6 in order to read everything that was translated into English, but I don't know that I'm interested enough. Five volumes in, and Blood Alone still feels unfocused.

Extras:
  • A 5-page illustrated story, character, and terminology guide. While I thought the inclusion of this info was a good idea, especially since I had to check Takano's vampire terminology several times while reading the last chapter, I wish that the terminology section hadn't included illustrations. The clutter made it that much harder to find the info I needed.
  • Three full-page illustrations, which I assume were originally in color (one of them is the cover illustration). Unfortunately, here they're in black-and-white, and a lot of detail is lost.
  • An 8-page preview of Dracula Everlasting.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund (manga) by Nozomu Tamaki; Dance in the Vampire Bund (anime TV series) - Those who'd like another story starring a physically young vampire and her beloved protector may want to check this out. Like I said, I've seen the anime but haven't read the manga it's based on. The story is better and more interesting than Blood Alone's story, but enjoying this series requires that one have a certain tolerance for the way Mina, the main vampire character, is presented. I've written about the anime, so you can take a look at my post for further details if you're interested. Keep in mind that I only saw the censored version of the anime.
  • Blood+ (anime TV series) - Like Blood Alone, this series stars a vampire (Chiropteran) and her protector. This is a more action-oriented series, but it's still kind of slow-paced compared to a lot of action series out there. The main character believes, at first, that she's an ordinary human girl, until her happy and relatively normal life is disrupted. In order to save everyone, including what's left of her family, she must remember who she used to be and how to fight.
  • Lament of the Lamb (manga) by Kei Toume - Another vampire series. I haven't read this, but it sounds like it's fairly reflective and, like Blood Alone, has a main character who is very emotionally dependent on someone, in this case his sister.
  • Vampire Princess Miyu (manga) story by Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano (from volume 2), art by Narumi Kakinouchi - There are also a couple anime versions, neither of which I know anything about. This series is more focused on horror and supernatural elements than Blood Alone, and Miyu is definitely not a cute, bumbling little girl, but, from what I can remember, the series has a similar slow pace and episodic feel. I don't remember there being any romance, although those who are so inclined could view Larva, Miyu's handsome and mysterious companion (guardian?), as a potential love interest.

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